State to Pay NIS 100,000 to Right-wing Activist Federman

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The Jerusalem District Court yesterday ordered the state to compensate right-wing extremist Noam Federman to the tune of NIS 100,000. Federman was detained without trial for 18 months on suspicion of involvement with a militant group that killed eight Palestinians.

In an unprecedented ruling, Judge Moshe Drori upheld Federman's argument that, as no charges against him were ever proved, his months of administrative detention, followed by periods of house arrest, entitled him to damages.

Drori ruled that Federman was entitled to compensation due to the suffering he underwent as a result of the protracted legal proceedings against him.

In August last year, Federman sued for damages and the reimbursement of legal expenses after the state retracted an indictment filed against him in connection with a Jewish terror group known as the Bat Ayin Underground. The indictment, filed in May 2002, accused Federman of possessing hand grenades, explosives and ammunition.

In May 2004, however, following unreliable testimony from another suspect in the affair, the state prosecution announced that it was retracting the indictment against Federman and he was acquitted. The acquittal also led to the cancelation of the administrative detention order against him.

Federman, who represented himself in the damages suit, argued that there was no foundation to the charges against him. Drori, however, rejected the argument, ruling that the decision to indict Federman was not unreasonable. He ruled, nevertheless, that other circumstances justified compensating him - first and foremost, the protracted legal proceedings.

The judge stressed that as a result of these proceedings, Federman, who had just completed a law degree at the time of his arrest, was unable to begin work as an articled clerk.

"The stress that the claimant was under during the two years of the [legal] proceedings ... is a consideration that tips the scales in the direction of granting compensation to the claimant," the judge wrote in his ruling.

As an example of the distress, the judge cited a bat mitzvah celebration for one of Federman's daughters, to which a handcuffed Federman was escorted by police.

"The balloon blew up in the faces of the Jewish Department of the Shin Bet [security service] and the state prosecution," Federman said after the court's ruling. "Let's hope to internalize the lesson and not try to pile up cases against those who love Israel."

He said he would file personal lawsuits against Shin Bet agents. "Those guys conducted a crusade against me," he said. "They stopped at nothing to try to incarcerate me, despite the fact that I am not guilty. Today, the court put the final nail in the coffin of the contrived case against me."

For its part, the state prosecution said it would consider appealing the court's ruling.

Peace Now director general Yariv Oppenheimer urged the state prosecution to appeal the ruling, defining it as "miserable."

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